March/April 2015            




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In This Update...

  • In Honor of Mother's Day - A Story About A Mother/Daughter Business
  • 2014 Annual Report Completed
  • 500 Seat Pavilion Under Construction at WMI Headquarters in Buyobo, Uganda
  • Cocktail Reception for WMI Supporters - Sunday, May 31
  • Uganda's First Lady Challenges Women to Work Hard to Uplift Their Families
  • Global Giving's 2nd Matching Day for 2015 - Wednesday, May 13
  • Capstone Students at Bullis School Prepare a Documentary about WMI

Highlighting A Mother/Daughter Business for Mother's Day: Olive and Lydia

Olive Wolimbwa, WMI's Local Director, has used her business skills and experience at WMI to support and teach her family. She has been able to send her two oldest children through university, and now is working with her oldest daughter, Lydia, in a new mobile money business. Lydia graduated from university this past year with a degree in economics. She recently started a mobile money business in Mbale, and Olive invested her latest WMI loan to help launch her daughter's business.


Of all the benefits WMI has brought to village women, Olive says she is proudest of how her whole family now understands finances, and can plan together and support one another. The family did not have enough money to pay for both her second son and daughter to start university at the same time. Sitting around the kitchen table and looking at their finances together, her son, Sam, saw this and said, "pay for the girls first and I will go after." Now that Lydia has finished, Sam will start university this fall.


Olive calculated that she can pay back the principal and interest on the loan from her existing income streams. She invested the loan funds in Lydia's business with the intention that Lydia keep all of the profit she makes. In August, Lydia will return the investment not to her mom, but to her brother Sam for his university fees. Through hard work, sacrifice, and planning Olive, and her family have leveraged their combined finances and business income to support and invest in each other's future.  


 2014 Annual Report Completed

WMI has released its 2014 Annual Report. Last year WMI continued its impressive growth, adding over 1,400 new borrowers (5,600 in total) and issuing 5,000 loans totalling $850,000, at an average of $150 per loan. To date WMI has issued 16,000 loans totalling $2.5 million.

WMI assisted 800 women in their transition to independent banking in Uganda, providing them support and working with PBU to ensure a smooth graduation to the formal economy. The WMI loan program has graduated 1,880 borrowers to date. 


The Annual Report is posted on the web site. Please take a few minutes to read about all of the accomplishments in 2014 that were made possible by your generous support.  2014 Annual Report


500 Seat Pavilion Under Construction at WMI Headquarters in Buyobo, Uganda

Through a generous grant from The Cordes Foundation WMI has broken ground on a 500-seat pavilion next to its headquarters building in Buyobo, Uganda. The pavilion is necessary to accommodate the ever-increasing numbers of women accessing loan program services in the Sironko, Mbale and Kapchorwa Districts. Right now the Buyobo loan hub is serving about 1,700 rural women. It will also be used for expanded community development programs such as Girl's Group, Adult Literacy and HIV/Breast Cancer/Cervical Cancer registrations for screening.

WMI was especially pleased to receive this particular grant for expansion of our physical infrastructure because The Cordes Foundation was one of the first institutional donors to WMI. Way back in 2008, the year WMI was launched, Ron Cordes, who is the Foundation's president, met with WMI's Robyn Nietert and after hearing the details of WMI's unique business model, he provided a grant of $7,500 to secure a five year salary for our local director, Olive Wolimbwa. That grant was instrumental in allowing WMI to flourish during that critical first year of operation. 


Ron visited Buyobo in 2008 and enjoys wearing an orange shirt he bought there from a WMI-funded business. Foundation Executive Director Spencer Ton, and Foundation Vice Chair Stephanie Cordes made a visit to Buyobo in 2014. WMI is extremely grateful for the ongoing support of the Cordes Foundation and for the enthusiasm their team brings to WMI's mission.



Cocktail Reception for WMI Supporters - Sunday, May 31 in Bethesda, MD

It's Spring so it must be time for a WMI event!


All WMI supporters are invited to a Cocktail Reception at the home of WMI Board Member Beatrix VanderVossen on Sunday, May 31 from 5 - 7 PM. The address is 6714 Persimmon Tree Road, Bethesda, MD 20817. Enjoy a lovely evening in the beautiful VanderVossen garden and visit with other colleagues and friends who have joined the WMI ranks through the years. Hear about WMI's progress and future plans. And, let us thank you for all you have done to make WMI a success.


We hope you can join us! Please RSVP to Kathy Staudaher at staudahermak5@verizon.net.  


Uganda's First Lady Challenges Women to Work Hard to Uplift Their Families









In the April 13, 2015 edition of New Vision, a leading Ugandan newspaper, the country's First Lady made national news when she encouraged women to work for the improvement of their families. Mrs. Museveni challenged women to work with their husbands to improve the income and welfare of their families. She advised women to adopt a saving culture and encouraged them to ensure hygiene and sanitation in their homes. 


Not that long ago, rural women were not expected to have jobs, but encouraging families to work together for the benefit of the entire household is now a common theme in rural East African communities. With few jobs available, the only realistic avenue for income generation is for family members to start businesses. That's why access to capital and financial services is so critical to development is rural sub-Saharan Africa. 

Women running WMI-funded businesses are making the difference in their families and communities. They pass profits to their children - they pay school fees, buy clothing, and feed their families with their incomes. In WMI, women are also encouraged to work with their husbands and families so their businesses can succeed; with the family working together the business can make more profit and family members learn to support each other.


In addition to giving loans, WMI also encourages saving. A saving culture is not prominent in Uganda, so it is often a new concept for women. However, with a savings component and savings incentives built into the WMI business training, a saving culture is emerging within the WMI loan hubs. WMI is striving to improve the lives of rural women and their families in concert with the economic shifts in East African culture.  


Global Giving's 2nd Matching Day for 2015 - Wednesday, May 13









The second of Global Giving's (GG) three matching days for 2015 has been announced. It is scheduled for Wednesday, May 13. If you already participated in the first matching day this past March - thank you so much! If you did not have a chance to participate then and are considering supporting WMI, you can make your donation go further by taking advantage of the matching event.


The Matching Day begins at 9 am Washington, DC time (EST) on Wednesday, May 13. Matching is available on donations up to $1,000. Just click on this link to the WMI project page on the Global Giving web site.  WMI Project


If you have any problems you can go to the GG home page at globalgiving.org and type in WMI's project code, 2349, in the search window. This will take you to the WMI project page.


GG will provide a matching percentage calculated by dividing the $75,000 matching funds it has available by the amount donated on its web site throughout the day. So if $75,000 is donated to all projects, then each project will receive 100% matching for all donations; if $150,000 is donated to all projects, each project will receive 50% matching for all donations, etc.


WMI has raised $162,000 through the Global Giving web site in the past 6 years.  For a small organization like ours, it has been a wonderful source of new supporters, grants and matching funds.   



Capstone Students at The Bullis School in Potomac, MD Present A Documentary on WMI


In September 2014, WMI President, Robyn Nietert, was invited by Dr. Connie Giles, Director of Curriculum and Institutional Research at The Bullis School in Potomac, MD, to mentor a group of Capstone students.  The team of senior young women elected to study microfinance during the academic year and prepare a documentary about WMI as their crowning project. 


This past week they debuted their 20-minute film to the entire upper school of more than 450 students.  It was very well received by the 15 - 18 year olds and generated extensive discussion about development and women's issues.  The students then participated in a fund-raiser for WMI, raising several hundred dollars.


The young women involved in the Capstone program were engaging and enthusiastic about their project.  Working with these young people, who are on their way to college and who will bring their outlook to a larger academic world, was an opportunity for WMI to give them a small window into the life of rural African women and perhaps impact (just a bit) their thinking on larger issues like world poverty.  





Each of you reading this newsletter has helped make WMI a real force in the delivery of financial service to remote communities. On behalf of all the rural women of East Africa that WMI serves: THANK YOU! With your continued support, we look forward to bringing the benefits of the WMI loan program to even greater numbers of impoverished women this year so that they can create a better life for themselves and their families.





The WMI Board of Directors


Robyn Nietert          rgnietert@aol.com  

Betsy Gordon           betsygord@mac.com
Deborah Smith        deborahwsmith@yahoo.com

June Kyakobye        jgkyakobye@yahoo.com
Trix Vandervossen   bvandervossen@imf.org 

Jane Erickson          ericksonjn@verizon.net
Terry Ciccotelli         terryciccotelli@gmail.com